"The present results are completely reproducible and the structures grow at the predefined locations with sufficient homogeneity over the whole wafer," said Sönke Mehrgardt, chief technology officer of Infineon. "The growth process lasts only a few minutes. These are optimum prerequisites for integration in semiconductor production line processes."

Until now, techniques for producing carbon nanotubes such as laser ablation and arc discharge have been difficult to combine with semiconductor technology.

Infineon says the first possible application of the technology is in vias - the contact bridges between two metal layers in integrated circuits. "With this discovery we can consider replacing all of the metal conductors in the chips with carbon nanotubes," said Franz Kreupl, one of the researchers on the team. Infineon claims this would ultimately lead to a considerable increase of the on-chip clock rate.

Infineon researchers are also working on growing semiconducting carbon nanotubes on wafers using "the same catalytic deposition method".